If your child is happy, secure and sharing, whatever you are doing is right. If you child is sullen, afraid of strangers, doesn't share...something is wrong.
Adrian, a 3 year old has no fear of strangers. When he got up to get a snack brought one for me. He's a happy child. His parents have given him that stray smack or poke, have spoken to him in no nonsense voices, but obviously, whatever it is they are doing, Adrian is a pleasure to be around.
Alaya is also 3. She is afraid of strangers, if you get too close she lashes out. Her face is set in sullen lines. She will sooner throw food on the floor than share it. She has never been hit or yelled at and does what she pleases.
Children see the world as a big scarey chaotic place. It would be as if you came for a meeting in an aircraft hangar instead of a normal office. Being dwarfed by this world, they need boundaries, they need to be able to get bite sized pieces of reality.
The crib is the first place...they can get the dimensions of it, and then the play pen, so that their 'world' is 'controllable'. They need the 'no'. They need the rituals. They even need the slap.
They learn what they can do and what they can't. As they get older their world gets bigger, and because they are secure in their world when someone enters it they are not afraid or threatened. As they are not afraid they can share, because they have expanded themselves to include others. Insecure children for whom the world is threatening will not share.
Adrian's parents have an easy relationship with each other, and with him. When Adrian says that Daddy poked me, Mommy asks what he was doing why Daddy poked him, so he knows that there is a 'united front'.
Alaya's parents have this careful relationship with lots of silence and little spontanity. Although they have their jobs and their morning rituals, Alaya does not feel secure because there are no limits on her. Instead of demanding she be quiet, they up the sound on the television. Instead of slapping her when she slaps another, they tell her about a 'time out'.
At play school everyone loves Adrian. He's always happy and joking and having fun. He has a lot of friends. Alaya plays by herself, and has no friends. The play school teachers have spoken to Alaya's parents but they have no idea what to do or if they are doing anything wrong.